New day, new week

I finally finished my poverty piece today** (well, there’s still some tweaking that needs to be done, but I’m working on it!) and it feels really good. I actually had a lot more to work with than I thought I would. I spoke to a good number of people, and honestly, even though I got great information, it was tough to kind of wrap my brain around such a topic and more importantly, how I would report on it.

**By this I mean my first draft.

I joined the education beat because I was inspired by the first poverty story (and subsequent letter to the readers) written by Abby Eisenberg and Garrett Evans. I’ve reported on educational reform before, and my mom is passionate about the educational system, ever since serving on the school board when we lived in Orlando.

The story I’ve put together is as concise as I could make it, but there’s always room for change. That’s why I’m going to look over it — more than a few times — tonight, and why I’ve read it a lot prior to today. Poverty is a tough topic to cover. There’s no easy way to jump into an issue that is so steeped in controversy and veiled in taboo. I don’t think it’s that people are ignorant of the issue of poverty; it’s just a matter of discussing it that introduces some obstacles. I even found myself questioning my own interests at stake as I wrote the article. I’ve lived a privileged life, and I’m not about to discount that. But as a person who experienced a more privileged life, I wanted to be around the students, and the people, who have a goal in life that goes beyond socioeconomics. I wanted to report about it because not only did I (nor do my colleagues and community) not know enough about the issue, but I feel like it’s an issue that just needs to be covered. Our economy and financial structures have decimated the socioeconomics of our country, and it’s fascinating to see this at the local level.

Talking about poverty could potentially be like opening a can of worms. I’m not going about it with a goal of defaming anyone or putting anyone on a pedestal. I’m actively trying to avoid generalizing and looking at everything I analyze and report. It’s too much of a volatile issue for me not to be detail-oriented. Also, because of the issues I’ve run into earlier this semester (let me say again, corrections are NOT fun, in the slightest), I’ve learned that being self-critical is important to becoming a better journalist. I can’t just assume that what I write doesn’t have any pre-conceived notions or observations that may not be appropriate. It’s just a matter of me being able to address the relationship between objectivity and analysis in my reporting. It seems that I might have found some good context for Kovach and Rosensteil’s The Elements of Journalism. It may be time for me to pull out that book again.

But for now, I’m happy with the reporting I’ve done. I hope that it comes out well and portrays what I have been contemplating and wanting to tell the people. I hope also that it continues in the footsteps of what Garrett and Abby did so well last semester and is a good follow-up, however it may end up looking like around publication time. It’s too important of an issue to not think about.

Aside from that, I’ve also got a few other things in the works this week. I’m going to work on some more content for the school board election, and I may tag along at a public forum on Thursday. I’ve also picked up a potential idea about a partnership between Islamic Center and Columbia Public Schools. I’m learning about the Middle East and Islam now, and this idea pricks my long-time yearning to tap into the culture. We’ll see how that turns out.

Moreover, True/False is this weekend and I’m beyond excited! I’m volunteering at the Picturehouse as a theatre ops volunteer, so I’ll be a busy bee over the week, with my purple fest shirt, yellow badge and all. I’m gonna see what I can fit into the next few days before the wonderful annual fest comes around.

Post-script:

I also had a thought about something I came across on Facebook the other day. Now, I don’t personally have a Pinterest account, but this series of photos I was linked to was a really creative use of the website. Pinterest works kind of like a visual chronology of posts from people you follow, from what I can grasp from it. I’ve had a Tumblr before, which is basically like the fusion of Twitter and a more long-form blog. On Tumblr, you have a dashboard where you can see posts from people you follow, and you can re-blog these posts if you can. You can also create your own posts, tag them, etc. Tumblr was (maybe still is) the headquarters of everything hipster — under-exposed photos of skinny blonde girls, “memes” (a cute little online development from my generation), song streaming. I’m not sure how Pinterest works, but I do know that the dashboard on the website is similar to Tumblr’s.

Alas, I can’t find the Pinterest anymore. And you can’t search on Facebook (hey, developers, do you hear me?), so I can’t show the link! But anyway, what this Pinterest chain of posts did was splay out famous photos from our modern culture’s history. It jumped from Audrey Hepburn to Che Guevara to George Bush. It was a very visual chronology, and I honestly thought it was fascinating to use a social-network-of-sorts as a way to briefly describe our recent history through pictures (which seems like such a daunting task). I know newspapers have Facebook and Twitter accounts, and as more and more develop profiles on sites like Tumblr, maybe they should look at websites like Pinterest to post photos to create an ad hoc record of posts.

Now, I’m not about to get a Pinterest. I’m also hesitant to jump on the train of journalism becoming completely enveloped in new technology, because I think we run the risk of compromising our product. But I do think that actively engaging in alternatives is good to keep journalism fresh. I suppose it’s true that we won’t be able to rely on newsprint forever. (But I read the newspaper every day, no worries. I will never stray from the physical copy — for now.)

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Sunrise times

Now, I’m not exactly posting this at sunrise, but I woke up today at a surprisingly early hour. I usually wake up very early during the week, but I usually sleep to a time more suited to a stereotypical college student. I really love the feeling of waking up early, because there’s something about the morning that I can’t find in any other part of the day. It’s quiet, cold, crisp, and everything seems to be waking up right next to me—the bird, the dewy grass, the sun. It’s similar to sunset, but the thing that’s motivating about the morning is that there’s an entire day to follow. So, I’m going to start posting about things that generally make me happy. I want to get to 40 before the end of Lent (because I’m weird and actively practice Lent even though my religious participation otherwise is hardly existent). It’s those little things that keep me going through the day, and it’ll help me reflect. Maybe I’ll make a separate page for these things. Or another blog. Hmmmm.

But anyway, this week was really fun. I was planning on getting my poverty stuff out this week, but alas, the plague that has been encroaching on my entire life and despite my compromised immune system, I was stubborn and kept pushing myself. But I hit a point where I needed to do something. So, several antibiotics and tea cups later, I am back to my normal self (fingers crossed. I spilled salt today but I proceeded to throw it over my shoulder so hopefully no bad luck will be following me). Regardless of my mystery disease, I did get out some content this week that I’m pretty proud of.

First, was my GA story on local stores Cool Stuff and Hot Box Cookies. I was assigned this story when my editor got an email from the owner of Cool Stuff saying that he was closing his store for good. Now, this store’s a pretty big deal in Columbia. They’ve been around for a good 23-so years, and I was glad to get a story. But, when I called the owner, he didn’t pick up. And continued to do so after many, many calls. So I decided to swing by the store to talk to him, which came to no avail. I ran into a Cool Stuff employee who was locking the doors when I got there—and I was immediately confused. It was about 12:15. Why were they closing early when they said they’d be open until 6? So I came back to the newsroom and started to call other sources. It wasn’t until I met up with the owner of Hot Box Cookies where I learned some realities behind the closing of Cool Stuff—Arnie Fagan, the shop’s owner, was actually in the process of making a deal with a national apparel to take over the premises of both Cool Stuff and Hot Box Cookies (Fagan is the landlord of the two shops’ building) and Corey Rimmel, the owner of Hot Box, was not happy about it. So rather than write about the closing about Cool Stuff and the clearance sale (that’s still going on until next Wednesday, if anyone’s interested), I wrote about this interesting little tidbit about what I learned of the intentions behind Cool Stuff’s new clearance move. It was a little chase of a story, but it was fun to write.

I also went to a work session for the school board on Thursday with my co-reporter, Allie Hinga. By the way, she did a GREAT story on Eliot Battle this week, and it’s well worth the read. For this school board story, we were writing about the work session, but mainly we were focusing on the transfer policies that have been debated by both the school board and the community for a while. School redistricting plans were recently passed here, and transfer for students were clearly going to become the next big thing. So, essentially, this work session was focusing on the decision on two transfer policies, the general transfer policy and the transfer policy regarding the redistricting (which would focus on the timeline of our new high school, Battle, opening in fall 2013). Getting solid experience in reporting like this is really beneficial because it helps you develop a quick turn rate for a story that needs to be published immediately. Allie’s a great partner and has really aided me through the process. We’ve learned some good things to aid our reporting, like skeletons for our stories and drawing diagrams and doing a LOT of research before the events we cover. We’ve both run into our own problems—being overwhelmed, getting caught in the weeds in the details of what they talk about, and even simply understanding everything, from HVAC air conditioning bids to the transfer policy itself. But I think we have, and will, get very good at our school board coverage. It’ll take devotion and devotion to detail. I think our personalities bounce well off each other, and we were just talking the other day about how it’s nice to have someone else there to verify everything.

We’re also working on the school board elections as they draw near. I don’t know if I posted about this before, but we did recently posted some micro-bios of the candidates who are running, and now we’re working on community outreach as we develop our approach to elections and coverage of the candidates. I’m excited to see how our coverage comes out.

Education for the win!

Passive activism

I was sitting in Starbucks the other day (a fact that might totally debase the entire next novella I’m about to post out of a case of classic upper-middle class college kid hypocrisy), and I overheard two girls talking about their clothes. I wasn’t exactly listening to their conversation, as I was semi-focusing on the reading I had to do for a political science class the next day, until they brought up their pairs of TOMS shoes.

“I reaaaaaaally need a new pair of TOMS,” Girl 1 said. “They’re just so old.”

“Me too,” Girl 2 said. “I kind of want to get the sparkly gold ones.”

I stopped for a moment, pondered, and then got back to work. I didn’t stop because of the high pitch of these girls’ voices or because they were speaking at a volume normally preferred for a loud sports event. I stopped because I’d heard this before.

It brought me back to a few weeks ago when I saw a new box in front of the cashier at Starbucks. It had some minimalist design I can’t specifically recall right now upon which bracelets hung. On each bracelet was a little piece of metal with “INDIVISIBLE” emblazoned on it. The box had some patriotic slogan involving jobs and U.S. and red, white and blue. The goal, according to the website, is to encourage growth of U.S. manufacturing jobs. Buy the bracelet, save American jobs.

The only thing I could think (and accidentally out loud) was, “Seriously?”

There is charity. There is passion and drive. There is devotion to a cause, to a movement where you dirty your hands with a soiled shovel or sweat through the day on a site where you help build a building for a village. There is entrepreneurial spirit that seeks to genuinely bring something to the common good.

But there is also deception in our modern definition of charity.

Case in point. Gap got a huge backlash from customers when someone posted a picture online of their "Made in America" bags with "Made in China" tags.

Case in point. Gap got a huge backlash from customers when someone posted a picture online of their "Made in America" bags with "Made in China" tags.

Thanks to a friend, I read an article titled “7 worst international aid ideas”, which makes some pretty good points. One of the charity organizations criticized was TOMS shoes, and I was curious. I’d talked about this before, about how I was uncomfortable with TOMS shoes and other organizations like RED, Livestrong and the pink ribbon campaign (who doesn’t really need criticizing, because Komen’s gotten itself into a heap of trouble recently). TOMS has turned into the starlet of charities because it does what it says it does: it gives a pair of shoes to a poverty-stricken child in Africa when someone buys a pair online.

So, it’s a one-for-one deal, you may think. What’s bad about that?

But it’s much more than that. It’s a matter of diffusion of responsibility. It’s just like the crisis in Haiti: everyone jumped to help out. But, what does your text of $10 to Haiti efforts really mean? And moreover, why was coverage and attention in Haiti so short-lived?

What do we really contribute to the movement by passively buying a bracelet, a red shirt, a pair of canvas shoes? What does this really do for the greater good? And more importantly, why do we need to be rewarded for helping others out? If TOMS were a company that only sent the pair of shoes to the children—and took away the stylish pair from the lamenting Starbucks girl—would it be as successful?

These are all questions to raise as journalists and to help citizens raise.

I think I’ve just got a lot of qualms with the tendency to embrace materialism in our country’s publicity agencies. But I realize it would be unrealistic for me to say, “Hey, guys, stop that! Everyone needs to stop being consumers.” Because that’s definitely never going to happen.

I could go into a long rant about how consumerism is destroying our culture, but that would be a futile gesture. I also want to prevent the exhaustive effort of going into political philosophies (because we all know that socialism doesn’t work out well, communism doesn’t work at all, and democracy, despite what some say, does have problems)…because no one really wants that. (Sorry, political science professor. The Internet wins.)

Consumerism (and its father, or brother, capitalism) has already been wreaking havoc on our society, and has been since humans realized they could create a system of coinage and material goods. (I also recently saw a coin collection at our university’s Art and Archaeology museum and was blown away at the complexity of the commerce systems from political systems of old.) Everyone knows the deficiencies and inadequacies of our consumerist culture.

But it’s the intertwining of consumerism and charity that is concerning. Companies realize that people REALLY like to be humanitarians, and, armed with minimalist designs and idealistic slogans and YouTube videos, they’ve captured our spirit of altruism.

And we completely fall for it. Pay $30 for a shirt with a red logo and help save Africa? Seems easy enough. But we fail the potential of the movement by just clicking “buy” and then going about our business.

(Here’s a good nonprofit website for charity information. And, our state attorney general has a site for it too.)

And then when people find out about the realities of charity companies—the high administrative costs of their services, the “celebrity” complex as shown in the Haiti fervor, the impracticality of calling for the end of something so weighty as starvation or inequality—they get upset. This is understandable. When a movement is undermined by consumerism itself, it leaves a bruise. I’m not here to critique anyone, I just want to raise questions.

International conflict and human rights are a go-to issue for journalists. We’re attracted to negative coverage; starvation and culture clash are perfect candidates. I’m personally looking into pursuing foreign conflict journalism myself, but I think it’s important for us to avoid ignorance. Yes, starvation is bad, and totalitarian regimes are bad. I think that can be generally agreed upon. But the conflicts we involve ourselves in have many asterisks and details that we, and subsequently, the people, don’t know.

I’m not sure what my goal was with this post, but I did want to address the hypocrisies that are occurring in our society. Perhaps it is a lack of information. Perhaps it is an ignorance in the fault of the people. Perhaps it is denial, or self-gratification as a motive. I don’t think any one blog post could address the psychological nature of why we feel the need to be charitable and why charity capitalism has spiralled out of control.

But the fact is that instead of buying that new pair of TOMS shoes, we should research the source of inequality and conflict in African countries. After reading through that Times article about pre-arranged Muslim marriages, look up different translations of what the Quran says about marriage.

That’s obviously a lot to ask of people. Which is why, as journalists, we should strive to give all of the information out that we can find. We’re human too, and because of this, we can fall into the trap of assumption and shallow reporting. I personally don’t think I do enough research myself, and that’s something I need to change.

It’s just like what I say about veganism. I think veganism is a great cause, and I applaud those who brave the waters of such a devoted lifestyle. But unless a vegan is personally going about changing the face of the meat industry (which I’m sure is happening, and to those people, I salute you), they can’t assume that their preference of spelt over Challah bread is making much impact on the decisions at the Cargill, Tyson or Smithfield headquarters.

As Joseph Conrad put it, there is a heart of darkness inside all of us, and the cruelties condemned by charities could be described as one of the world’s hearts of darkness. The problem now is we choose to cover up that heart with a thin veil of positivity and idealism through our products and consumer-charities. It’s hard to deny the fact that sending money via text to Haiti or buying a Livestrong bracelet briefly alleviates the guilt of being a consumer (as Zizek describes in the video). But maybe it’s our goal, as journalists (and citizens), to start raising some questions about those little actions.

Charity is not a bad thing, and neither are the foundations that represent them. Rather, charity is a fantastic facet of our culture’s complex psyche. It’s wonderful to see how people will jump so quickly on helping out once crisis occurs (although there is also a critique of the tendency of the U.S. to not take action until crisis occurs). But our passive approach to bringing about change will, in turn, bring nothing but a prolonged status quo. Our culture of fast food and faster information has undermined our ability to stop and really realize significance—significance of anything. Pressing the “checkout” button is easier and has become preferred over more active decisions.

We as journalists need to inform. We need to research so that we don’t make sweeping assumptions or generalizations. We need to keep foundations like Susan G. Komen and TOMS accountable for their actions. We need to look into the background and history of international conflicts through the eyes of journalists, not necessarily just as humanitarians. We need to be honest and realistic in our reporting, so people can do the same about their own perceptions. It is our role to be the middle man between the people, these groups and activist movements, and the damaged countries under the spotlight. We ask the questions no one else asks, so that maybe, in the future, the people can too.

As journalists, as people and as a world community, we need to be active instead of passive. We can’t expect the world to change if we don’t take a role in the change itself.

Down and out, and an election

So, today I finally came to terms with the fact that I’m probably sick. So, after a good 2+ weeks of harboring a nice little cough and a compromised immune system, I took a day off. I had not been wanting to do this because I hate the thought of losing so much time. But honestly, I feel a lot better now. Once I hit my bed after getting back from budget at the Missourian, I slept for practically four hours, ate dinner, and then slept some more. I feel fantastic, but needless to say, I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to. I have been working on a piece on poverty in Columbia at the K-12 level, and I was hoping to crank it out today. But, alas, comatose mode struck and I’m just feeling up and at ’em. I’m starting back on the work that I had originally planned, so I’ve got quite a night ahead of me. But, out of respect for my colleagues and myself (I don’t want to spread this awful virus I caught), I will probably hit the sack early. It’s amazing the amount of time you can sleep when you’re under the weather.

But anyway, my fellow education reporters Allie Hinga and Nicole Jones and I have put together our first mini-profiles (link) on the school board candidates who are running for the election on April 3. I had a great time speaking to the Columbia resident I spoke to, Paul Cushing, and I believe my other colleagues did as well.

This is Paul Cushing, the school board candidate who I will be covering for the election. He is new to the political election scene, and grew up in central Florida (like me!).

From personal experience, I’ve learned that the school board is a very, very interesting facet of local government. It’s a chance for citizens to speak to and voice their opinions to—and boy, do they voice them—elected officials. From redistricting to new air conditioning systems, there always seem to be somebody who’s got something to say. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, although tensions can raise and attitudes can become thorny. (This is all being said from my experience witnessing the public school system in Orlando, Fl. when my mom was on the school board, not necessarily describing CPS.) I think our school district here is fantastic; it’s a town who has education as a top priority. And school board elections are telling moments for the times to come, so I’m excited to see where these candidates will take us with their platforms, and it will also be interesting to see how Columbia residents will respond. I’m glad I get to be around as these elections happen, because I feel like it’s one of the most interesting functions of public school systems. All of the candidates are different and I’m sure our election team has got a lot on our plate, but we’re ready to take it full-force.

I’m sick right now, but I won’t be for long. And more importantly, I just simply can’t let sickness get in the way. I’ve been taking care of myself, and I may just have to step it up a little bit. I’ve gone through an entire jug of Simply Orange today and my Emergen-C is running low. Must keep my spirits up and my immune system pumping strong.

This post will be brief because I’m actually writing a longer one I’ll post tonight about something that’s been on my mind for a while. It’s not a total digression, and it factors into journalism. Heck, most of what I think about links back to journalism in some form. What will this post be about? A bit of philosophy, a dash of sociology, and a dab of journalism. Stay tuned, y’all.

I’m also putting together a post on citizen journalism that I’m hoping to post pretty soon. It’ll be lengthy, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. Suspense?

And the tweet goes on…

And the tweet goes on….

So, I thought I knew all there was to know about social networking. But alas, I do not! Here’s a link to a website that was created to explain Twitter, one of the big, bad wolves of the social-network-verse (play on “universe”. I’m bad at this.) I’m definitely an advocate for the use of social networking in journalism, because without it, our profession would fall behind. That’s just not a question. As we learned in class the other day, a Pew report stated that 13 percent of adults use Twitter now. Because of this increasing use of social networking, I think that embracing the technology is more than necessary to push journalism into the future.

But, the role of the journalist, as we talked about it class, is more muddled when it comes to Twitter and other social media networks. I would like to stand on the side of an all-encompassing profile for a journalist to maintain transparency. “Perceived similarity” is good for journalists: who we are in the newsroom should, essentially, be who we are online. What I mean by this is that I don’t think journalists should have separate accounts or censor certain things from other people. I understand that we are people, too. We have individual rights and the ability to write about whatever inane thing we’d like to, but let’s be real. When we choose to be journalists, we choose to put ourselves into the spotlight of equal parts public criticism, public respect. We have a devotion to the people. While we’re not necessarily public officials, we do represent the people, and moreover, the information that these people might not be able to access otherwise. We get mad when a celebrity tweets something racist or homophobic, or when an athlete cheats on his wife, so why can’t people get mad when journalists portray a jeopardizing opinion?

I’m not saying journalists can’t have opinions. Saying that is a futile gesture, because humanity is riddled with opinions. Our biases, our experiences, our passions, our disdain—it all factors into what we do in life. And in a journalist’s life, our work just happens to reveal the clashing armies of accuracy and of personal interpretation. If it’s already hard for us to distinguish to our readers how we manage to maintain objectivity in our reporting, then why make it harder on ourselves and ruin our image online? I think it’s a matter of laziness. Do you really need to post that snide comment about Rick Santorum’s latest innuendo misstep on Twitter? I will admit, I have failed and let loose some personal opinions online that I have immediately regretted. But I try as hard as I can to avoid doing so. It’s hard to constantly censor yourself, and sometimes I feel like it’s not worth it. But it’s the moral effort of doing so that I think makes maintaining your professionalism online worth it. If you don’t want your mom to see it online, why would you want your readers to?

In any sense, I believe Twitter and social media is a fantastic tool for journalists. But I do have some qualms with it.

It seems to me like journalists have a bad bandwagon complex, jumping on the newest technology like it’s the callback you’ve been waiting for three hours (exhibit A: Google+). I hope that journalism embraces Twitter, but it’s the gimmick-y nature of social media that makes me shift around a little bit on my opinion. It’s great to use online resources, but there’s also a line. And I’m not exactly sure where that line is. I guess what I’m really addressing is the breaking news mentality of Twitter. It’s already hard enough for journalists to get content out fast enough that is still accurate, but when Twitter comes into the picture, that focus on accuracy seems to shift to the back burner. I think Twitter is wonderful, but it’s also dangerous. We need to embrace the changing face of journalism, but we also need to stay rooted in the tradition of the profession. Maybe long-form may be going by the wayside eventually, but I don’t think we should totally compromise our format of presenting news to the public just to keep up with the trend.

We’re a trend-following profession, but that doesn’t mean we have to be conformist.

Moreover, there’s the issue of citizen journalism. As journalists, bloggers and citizens intertwine online more than they ever have before, the definition of journalism is changing. What is a journalist now? We’ve talked about this in class, in the newsroom, and I’m sure it’s a dead-horse topic that no one can really make an answer to. We’ve got to be careful how we transform ourselves. Again, it’s great to embrace everything that’s happening in these new technologies, but as we begin to change, we need to keep our eyes open to not only the benefit of such technologies, but also the shortfalls. I think a critical furrow of the brow, which journalists are so good at conducting, is appropriate in the topic of social media and journalism.

Story corrections

I have added a separate page, like my separate pages for my work here at the paper (and before), to maintain an openness about my reporting and to track my progress for constant accuracy. I have failed at times, and when this alters the perception of my pieces, as my newspaper believes, I must be open about this and have it changed immediately.

Corrections are never a fun thing to deal with. For my first one (and other), I felt as if a thousand-pound weight was dropped on my chest. I’m not one to wallow, but realizing that you failed in being accurate is one of the most intense reality checks that you could possibly experience in journalism. This is my chance to learn and in turn, making mistakes is forgivable. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not held and that I should hold myself accountable for my work. My devotion is to accuracy, and when I fall short of that promise, I need to be open to myself about that as well as to readers, colleagues and editors.

I can’t say that I won’t ever make a mistake, and I think it’s that premise that really threw me off when I realized how easy it is to slip up. I just need to master the ability to NOT slip up, and avoid any error with as much pre-meditative action as I can.

I’m learning, and growing, and this is a way for me to archive my progress to all-around accuracy, transparency and devotion to the craft.

Link

Full circle

It’s funny how life can come around full circle. When I was younger and still making my educational rounds in the chaos known as Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, my mom was on the school board. Several years (and psychological scars) later, I think our whole family learned that the impact of a local government entity like the school board is not only powerful in its own right, but also in the right of the people it serves. There are definitely tense moments in a school board meeting, and the late night hours may frazzle some moods and clench some fists. But it is the public forum that I really find so interesting. While I find the rigmarole to be a bit tiresome, I’m glad that we are capable of providing such a direct outlet to the people.

That’s not to say that there aren’t issues with public school systems, and local government in general. But after a long night covering a school board meeting, it’s refreshing to know that I am able to be the messenger of decisions between the decision-maker and the citizen. The meetings may be long and the audience may start to trickle out, but I believe a paper’s policy of staying through a whole meeting is very important. Our world—and particularly, my generation—has a terrible habit of being very averse to devoting a lot of time to something. I’m definitely guilty of that. We’ve turned into a world where churning out information has become, to some people, a priority, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. I’ve definitely fallen prey to laziness and apathy. And I hate when that happens, because I know it’s just a cultural reflection of the “oh-look-a-squirrel” mentality. I know I’m scatterbrained at times. But it’s times like this where I need to furrow my brow at the details and stick it out to the bitter end. I had a pretty good time, too.

A school board meeting can seem so minor to someone, anyone. But it’s a matter of finding the interest in anything, because I’ve definitely found that out. But it’s more than just finding what’s interesting. It’s about finding what’s accurate. I’ve had a couple shortfalls with my reporting, and it’s a painful experience to go through a correction. It’s almost like you feel like you’re worthless. I mean, I sure did. But I know that I’m learning and I really need to wrap my brain around itself. I’ve learning a lot in the past few weeks. But I know I have a lot more to learn, and I’m truly excited about it. It might be frustrating at times for me to take things slowly because once I like something, I go with it—and run with it. Sometimes, I guess, it’s better to take a breath and slow down. Take everything in and be observant, even if it takes a few more minutes. Our culture of speed doesn’t have to mean there should be a lack of discretion in reporting.

I’m glad I was able to get something out tonight with my co-reporter, Allie Hinga. She’s a hard worker and I really admire her. I think we were good at being able to get all the right information out while still being timely about it. The first time covering school board was definitely nerve-racking, but those moments where my mind is racing and my palms are uncomfortably close to sweating that I know the lessons and skills I’m learning are helping me turn into the great reporter I aspire to be.

Moreover, I’m glad—I’ll repeat this again, because it’s true—to have so many passionate people around me. Being stuck in a void of indifference is the last thing this girl needs. I need to be pushed, to be put in an environment where motivation isn’t a unique quality, but rather, it’s a quality that every simply has. I’m a very motivated person, and it’s just really reassuring to see this drive around me.  I owe it to everyone for keeping me going.

It’s late, and I’ve got to get to my other work. To be continued!